Intense Week!

March 30, 2009

Hello, This week was pretty intense. We had 3 day divisions. I went to Leon XIII (ghetto) and my district leader came to Moravia to do the two baptismal interviews for Leo and Mario. I was with Elder Nuñez for divisions and we taught some good lessons. We challenged a couple to baptism but they need more time. We told them, all they need to know is that is true and be ready to change. We’ll see what happens. We also taught half of 1st lesson about restoration and left a pamphlet with a teenage guy in ‘La Peregrina’. After we left he ran after us and asked more questions like why he doesn’t feel the spirit in his bible class (he wants to be preacher) and that he is confused. We told him about Joseph Smith and went good. We set up an appointment with him for next week but I won’t be there because it’s not my area. It should be good. I got back to my area Moravia on Friday night after meeting my comp and the District Leaders at Wendys in Centro San Jose. We had to move the two baptisms (Mario and Leo) to Sunday morning before Church. Unfortunately, Leo lost his job this week and then he drank and smoked so he wasn’t able to be baptized. We will keep working with him and he will be baptized but he has to stop drinking and smoking. Mario didn’t show up for his baptism so we were disappointed, but he did show up to Church. He had been running late. We made sure he was still ready to be baptized and we had his baptism after church. Elder Bonn baptized him and the whole baptismal service was awesome. There were many members there and they showed a lot of support. Mario is awesome and he was very happy. He burst into tears when he bore his testimony. I am going to confirm him and he will receive the Holy Ghost next Sunday in Sacrament. I forgot my camera today so ill send Vera and Mario’s baptism pictures next week (hopefully).

My companion, Elder Bonn has changes this week. I am staying in Moravia. Changes are Thursday and I hope I get a cool companion. We already basically know where Elder Bonn is going because we went to the office today to say goodbye to the AP Elder Crowther who is going home. While in the office we put many clues together and we basically know he is going to Turialba. He really wanted to be close to the beach but at least Turialba has campo. He’s been in Moravia for 6 months and wants a change. We also kind of know who his comp is as well. We saw him at Wendy´s and were pretty sure it’s an Ecuadorian Elder who is kinda new. Every companionship in our zone has changes except for the zone leaders (Elder Howl and Elder Siballa). Elder Nuñez is finally leaving his area and so is Elder Jones. Elder Fallevai (awesome, strong, humble, Tongan dude who has learned English and Spanish on his Mission and was going to play for the Tongan National Rugby team (he taught me some Rugby tips the other day)) is also leaving the zone. Changes should be interesting. I am glad I’m not leaving Moravia yet because there is a lot of work to do. We have been so busy and are going to be busier. We still need to baptize Leo Alvarado. We need to work with recent converts Vera and Mario. We need to work with Vera’s family. Vera is trying to work with her husband. Vera’s daughter Helen is ready to be baptized but needs to get married. Work with her kids Luis and Francis. Vera’s other daughter Andrea is interested in baptism and wants us to teach her and her "husband". Leo’s mother, who was against him being baptized, told elder Bonn the other day that she can see the change in Leo and she likes it so maybe she will listen to the lessons. We also want to work with Mario’s brother and other family. We also have investigators like Laura and Jose Mario and Jose Robles. We also have many people in the ward that need support right now. Hno (brother) Saenz’s wife just died and Hno Vargas lost his job. We also have some inactives and we received 3 references that are golden.

Anyway how’s everyone doing? I took money out because I ran out for the month. Rent went up a little bit but I don’t think we’re moving. I haven’t seen much wildlife here yet. Just a few spiders, lizards, lots of dogs and cats and birds, etc (like the dogs and cats we can hear behind our house. they are the weirdest sounding dogs and cats I’ve ever heard. they sound more like aliens. sometimes we think there is a fantasy world behind our house because we hear the strangest sounds back there and we can’t see anything because there is only one tiny window, that is close to the ceiling in our room, that looks behind our house. There is a weird sounding bird that always wakes us up back there as well). The scriptures are really interesting, especially when you use the seminary workbooks to help you understand better. Mom, if you send a package I want gummy worms, cookies, candy, and I don’t know... ask me again next week. Oh, by the way, it’s my companion’s Birthday today. Goodbye.

Jungle adventure

March 23, 2009

I’m in Centro San Jose right now. I’m dirty and exhausted and in my normal clothes. We went to (or tried to go) to a national park that belongs to our area today. The park is ‘Braullio Corillo’ which is one of the biggest in Costa Rica I think. A little part of it is in our area way up past San Jeronimo. We, my district (Bonn, Tagliaferri, Nunez, and I) wanted to go to a more jungle place where supposedly there are waterfalls and cool stuff, so we wanted to explore and hunt some Jaguars. Ü We took our machetes and took a taxi and asked him to take us there. I think he went the wrong way because he drove us out on the highway that leads to Limon, and dropped us off on the side of the road after awhile. We were in the park, but I don’t think we were in the right part of the park because it was a mountain cliff going up on one side of the highway and a cliff going down on the other. We ended up walking down the highway forever trying to find a way down into the valley (without dying) where all the stuff to see in the park is. After walking up and down this jungle highway four hours without success, and after chopping things to bits with our machetes, and after running after and flagging down the few taxis that passed us and having them not stop, and after walking halfway back to our area (very far), and after having to run through a tunnel in the mountain (scared to death and trying to avoid being hit by cars and trucks) we finally were able to stop a bus and come to Centro San Jose. Once we made it back to civilization we walked to McDonalds and ate food. It was fun walking around with machetes sticking out of our backpacks. I have two machetes in my backpack so I feel like a ninja turtle (I think Leonardo). Ü Now I am typing an email.

This week has been another week. We visited Leo a couple times getting him ready for his baptism. Unfortunately he gave in the other night and smoked and drank. He talked to us the next day and he was really mad at himself. We told him how the devil was working hard because he doesn’t want him to be baptized. He said he felt the spirit telling him not to smoke and he is determined to quit and to be baptized. We still have his baptism set for this Saturday morning, but we have to visit him a few more times this week to make sure he is completely ready. We passed by Mario many times this week and he wasn’t home. We went to ‘La Isla’ on Friday night to try to visit again. When we got to his house we found him outside crying because his brother with epilepsy is pretty bad and the doctors don’t expect him to live. We gave his brother a blessing and talked to Mario awhile. His brother Marco has been stable since then so we hope he gets better. Good news is Mario and his brother have stopped drinking coffee. We passed by Laura (from English classes) this week and taught her the first lesson, and well pass by again. On Sunday both Leo and Mario made it to church. We had really good lessons and they have made some friends in the ward. Vera also brought her daughter Andrea. She had parts of most of the lessons because she is always there when we teach Vera, but she is often distracted by her 3 year old son Michael I tried to help keeping him quiet throughout Church so she could pay attention. He was fine at first but towards the end of Church, let’s just say he wasn’t very reverent. He is a really fun kid, but he needs to learn a few things. I think Andrea still likes Church. A couple days ago she told us that she was interested in having the lessons with her "husband", so we’ll try to teach him as well.

We passed by hermano Saenz a couple times and he is doing fine. He usually has people there with him. His two daughters and one of his daughters´ husband has been there the last times we’ve visited. Yesterday when we visited him he told us that he heard on the news that four people were killed at the Braullio Carillo National Park a couple days ago. (then...M♡M thinking...Why did you want to go the Park for? ; P ) We went to the Temple on Wednesday with our zone and it was a nice experience. The Temple here is a smaller one but its very beautiful. It was interesting in Spanish. Elder Bonn is going insane here in Moravia. He has been in this area since September and it’s only his second area. His first was in Buenos Aires in the South zone. He was only there for one change. He has been looking at maps and dreaming of going to a beach area like Quepos. The Ap’s told us we were super close to getting moved to Nicoya and opening the area there. But president decided not to send us there. Elder Bonn is sure he is getting moved out of here on changes (April 2), but you never know.

We’ve visited members this week. We had been to busy to eat at the 'China Restaurant' for like two weeks but we ate there the other night finally. There is a funny Texan guy who owns a pizza place in Moravia and he always says hello to us when he’s on his motorcycle delivering pizza or when we walk past his pizza shop. I want to eat there soon. There are a bunch of hobos who hang out on the benches by the Catholic Church in Moravia and they always say "hi" to us and "peace" and "Jesus rocks" and stuff like that. Contacting is still the same. Rejection after rejection. Last night Elder Bonn and I tried a new approach. We walked by the people standing in front of other churches and pretended to just be talking to each other about things like, "Yeah, it’s necessary to have authority from God to baptize," and "Its nice to know that the Church of Jesus Christ has been restored through the prophet Joseph Smith, isn’t it Elder Bonn? It’s pretty fun. I almost contacted a whole bus the other day but i chickened out. I'll do it one of these days.

Losing a loved one! :* {

March 16, 2009

Hey family, how’s it going?
It’s been an interesting week. Still get rejected a lot but there is a lot of good stuff happening as well. We are pretty busy and something I didn’t tell you about last week is that Hermana Saenz died last Sunday Morning. I was really shocked and sad to hear about it at first, but I realized that she’s in a much better and happier place. She had been going through a lot of pain and problems with her health and I know she was ready to pass on. After all of our citas (appointments) fell through on Sunday evening, we went to the Saenz home to see her body and see how hermano Saenz was doing. This week we also dropped by twice to visit him. He has always said he needs a message from us every week and he looks forward to our visits. Now he says he needs us more than ever. He is sad that his wife is gone but he is also very happy for the knowledge we have that she is happy right now and that they will see each other again. We visited yesterday and two of his daughters were there as well. One of the daughters, Ana, lives with Hermano Saenz and has been inactive, but she came to stake conference yesterday. The other daughter and her husband had the lessons 7 years ago, but the husband didn’t want them to get baptized. But now he is interested in being baptized again, because he took the death of Inez Saenz pretty hard, and he said that it is just wrong and cruel to not let his family be baptized when they could die at any second. They don’t live in our area so we won't be teaching them, but the missionaries in their area will, so maybe the death of Hermana Saenz will lead to the rebirth of her daughter’s family.

Earlier this week we visited Vera and taught her about the priesthood and Relief Society and she is doing great. We also taught Leo Alvarado and Mario Aguerro again and we were able to set baptismal dates with both of them. They are both set to be baptized on March 28th. Before that though, Mario has to stop drinking coffee, which I know he can do (he’s been off drugs for a year). Mario also has to make it to Church at least one more time. This is difficult for him because of his brother with epilepsy that he takes care of. Just a fun fact is that Mario has a dog named Shakira. Anyway, Leo has to stop smoking before his baptism as well. He has a couple of unfinished tattoos and the other day he asked if he could just finish them. We told him probably not and he should pray and ask God if finishing them would be okay. Then he said that he already knew the answer and he decided that he wouldn’t finish them or add any more tattoos. Please pray for Leo to get over smoking as well. Leo has a friend in another city in our zone that works with him and our bishop (Obispo Cruz). His friend is getting baptized this next week. Elder Fallevai (a really cool, strong, humble, Tongan Elder who has learned both Spanish and English on his mission) and a new Elder fresh out of the MTC, are teaching him. It is good that two friends are getting baptized around the same time so they can support each other. Both of them made it to Stake conference yesterday. Our mission pres, President Arbizu, his wife, the Temple pres, and our stake pres, President Argueros, spoke. It was a really interesting stake conference and some other people talked and shared their testimonies as well.

On Saturday, I taught English classes again. The hard part about teaching, is that sometimes people are at different levels and not everyone shows up every week so it’s hard to meet everyone’s needs, but so far I think I’m doing a decent job. The people really seem to appreciate free lessons and all of our students are non members. I wore my glasses to class so I would feel more professor like. *Ü* Today isn’t p’day, because on Wednesday we are going to the temple and our p’day was switched to Wednesday this week. We still have permission to e-mail today though (obviously). This week we have appointments with Leo and Mario. We are also going to visit Vera and Andrea (daughter who is usually always listening to the lessons with Vera but is distracted by her 3 year old son) and teach them more. We have an appointment set up with Laura (who goes to English classes and is pretty cute) and with Jose Robles (investigator who works in chocolate factory). My companion and I are almost out of money this month so we are trying to ration. Unfortunately the member haven’t been as eager to feed us this week so I’ve been eating a lot of pb&j sandwiches (we don’t have much time, space in the fridge to store stuff, money, or energy to cook). I will probably have to take out some personal money. I can write letters whenever I have time on p’day. Unfortunately sometimes I don’t have time. I have an hour every p’day to read and type emails. Sometimes we do it for a little longer. The scripture covers I ordered don’t have a temple on them, but you can order some with the temple on them (my companion has the Las Vegas Temple on his). I’m happy about the good news about our family and I hope everything goes well for everyone. I’ll be praying for you. I don’t know what else to say but I'm going to send some pics. Actually, I’m late for our lunch appointments so ill have to send the baptism and other pics next week. Sorry.

Smaller District

March 09, 2009

Hi, This week was pretty crazy. I had divisions with Elder Clark from the other companionship the night before they left Moravia. He showed me where their investigators live and introduced them to me because Elder Bonn and I are taking over their investigators. Elder Clark and Elder Stuetz left Wednesday morning. Elder Clark went to Pavas (other side of city) and Elder Stuetz went to Liberia (In Guanacaste, in Northwest of country). The new area is not too hard to handle so far and I already know how to get around the area pretty well anyway. I had divisions with my DL, Elder Tagliaferi, on Friday so he could give the baptismal interview to Vera. We also visited a few members and investigators. The interview went perfect and we got some of Vera´s grandson Michaels leftover birthday cake. Michael is Andrea´s son and his birthday was on March 3, like AV On Saturday morning we went to Wendys in Centro San Jose to switch back with our normal comps.

There are only four elders in our district now. Elder Tagliaferi, Elder Nunez, Elder Bonn, and myself. At noon we had to teach English classes at the church. We usually have classes every Saturday at 3. Before Elder Clark taught the beginners class and the rest of us would teach more advanced or conversational, but now its only Elder Bonn and I. Now I teach the whole class of mostly beginners and Elder Bonn teaches the more advanced people (if there are any that day) in the back of the room. None of the people that go to the class are members. Some are investigators and some just want to learn English for free. There are usually about 7-15 people that attend the class but we get more all the time because people bring there friends. Right after English classes we had to set up for Vera´s wedding. Then we ran to the store to buy chips for the wedding. Then Vera was married to Mario at about 2:30 (the wedding was supposed to be at 2 but everything in this country starts late). The guy that married them reminds me of the lawyer Jackie from Seinfeld. Half the people that came to the wedding were family and half were members. I wore my sick new white silverish tie. We ate food afterwards and it was really good. Then we ate the wedding cake. We didn't have a knife to cut the cake with so Elder Bonn and I went down to a local pizza joint and borrowed a big knife from them. People in the street looked puzzled when they saw me, a missionary, walking down the street with a large knife in my hand, but sometimes when we do service we carry around machetes anyway, so we´re used to it. After the wedding Vera Violeta Araya Sibaja was baptized by Elder Bonn. Elder Bonn dunked her pretty good (he basically slammed her into the water) because he wanted to make sure she got all the way under the water. While we were waiting for them to change i led the hymns but i basically sang solos because most of the people didn't know the tones of the songs or just didn't sing. Hopefully i didn't sound too bad. Anyway the baptism was awesome and Vera is a great example for her family.

On Sunday, yesterday, Vera was confirmed by hermano Jimenez. She got to church a little late and i felt bad because no one from her family came, but she was really happy to be confirmed and the members made her feel like they were family. Not only did we have the confirmation at church yesterday but we had 2 of our investigators and a members non-member friend at church also. One of the investigators is a reference we received from the bishop (Obispo Cruz) this week. His name is Leo Alvarado and he has been reading the book of Mormon for a month and is almost done with it. We have taught him about the restoration and he received the lessons about the plan of salvation and word of wisdom. He has a testimony already and we are probably going to invite him to be baptized soon. Another investigator that came to church yesterday also was Mario Aguerro who lives in La Isla and has a brother with Epilepsy. I think we will challenge him to be baptized soon also. We are visiting them both on Wednesday this week so we hope to challenge them then. We have an investigator class in Sunday school and we taught the lesson about the scriptures and explained to them about all the scriptures accepted by the church. Leo, Mario, Vera, and a members friend named Jose were in the class along with about four members who did pretty good in making the investigators feel welcome. All of the investigators and new members (Vera) were able to participate and did really well. Leo was even quoting Alma and it was awesome. During and after church i had the headache of filling out the baptism paperwork forms that ask for a lot of information. I don't see how some of the info it asks for is necessary or relevant but i got it all filled out anyway. Also had to update the area book and organize it the other day as well.

We have an hour every p'day to write and read emails. We can write letters on p'day. We only have one ward, before all four elders were in our one ward. The area isn't that bad, as long as you know which buses to take or where to walk. Sometimes its inconvenient if we have citas (appoitments) in different areas in a day but we try to plan to make it easier. Don't worry about my shoes. My vans are all sowed up and glued now. I had to cut up and use an old tie to patch some of the holes but it looks pretty good if i do say so myself. I'm trying to find street soccer shoes to buy but haven't found ones i want yet. My church shoes should be fine. I just need more super glue and plus i still have another pair of church shoes. The weather here for me is still pretty good. There were a couple of hot days and a few rainy days but i haven't had to use an umbrella yet. I let my comp use my rain jacket because it hasn't rained or been cold enough to bother me yet. My comp only gets cold because before this area he was in the humid jungle. Most of the time the weather here is moderately sunny, with a few clouds, and a light mist. The wind seems to blow the rain from the mountains to the city and it becomes more like a mist so I like it, but my comp doesn't. I already have a resistance band to work out with. My comp and I try to work out every morning. My comp has a good pull up bar that i use and its pretty good for working out my biceps, abs, and forearms. He also has push up handle things that we use. We plan to run but we just haven't gotten to it yet. Sometimes we have to run to appointments anyways and most of our area is pretty hilly too. I am in Centro San Jose right now because we come here almost every p'day now because in order to meet the other two Elders in our district we have to go through San Jose (that's where the buses go). The other elders are in Tibas, Garabito, Leon XIII (where Nunez has been jumped twice in the past two months). Good luck with everything going on at home.
Pura Vida!

Not New Shoes YET!

March 2, 2009

This week more of same. Vera is going to be baptized and married this Saturday. The office called this morning and told us that Elder Clark and Stuetz, the two other elders that live with Bonn and I, have emergency changes. They are leaving on Wednesday morning and Elder Bonn and I now have the whole Moravia area to ourselves. That means our area became even larger and we have to take over all of their investigators. This is going to be difficult but could be good at the same time. A four elder house is fun and it will be weird with just Elder Bonn and I. Our rent is going to go up next month so we might have to find another place to stay.

This morning we went to Price Smart with the Jimenez´s and bought peanut butter and Pringles for a better price than in MegaSuper where we always shop. We are now in Centro San Jose and we just ate at Wendy’s. There were like 20 other missionaries there as well. We were expecting to have four investigators at church yesterday but only Vera showed up (she brought her other daughter as well). Mario Aguerro from la Isla is still golden but he has a brother who has epilepsy so his brother has seizures and he has to take care of him. He also doesn’t have church clothes but we told him he should come anyway. Next week we will go to his house and pick him up. Jose Mario is just not progressing very well. He is trying to know if the BoM is true through reason and even though we've explained about the importance of asking god many times he just doesn't get it.

We taught English classes again and it’s going really well. It’s going to be tough with only two Elders now because we won’t be able to have beginners, advanced, and conversational anymore. Supposedly there is a good number of Colombians in Costa Rica but I haven’t met many that I know of. I did see a Colombian flag while I was on the bus on the way here today. I sewed and super glued my shoes up so I’m fine for now. Yes they call us gringos here too. So not much else going on. Big news is just the baptism/marriage and the e changes/widening area. Goodbye.